Tisch Library holds focus groups for planned renovations
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2012 01:09
Tisch Library last week set in motion a project to upgrade its facilities, holding a series of focus groups that will determine the project’s direction through student and faculty input.
The upcoming renovations are the result of an ongoing university−wide strategic planning process, according to Director of Communications Anne Fishman. The Schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering will jointly fund the project.
After the focus group phase is completed this December, the results will be used to determine which construction projects will take precedence over the course of the renovation, Tisch Associate Director Laura Walters said. Construction is slated to begin at the end of the 2013−2014 academic year.
The focus groups are led by Alexander Cohen of Aaron Cohen Associates, a library consulting group based in New York.
“When we’re done with this process [of conducting focus groups], the university will prioritize the projects within budget,” Cohen said. “The most important aspect of this is that the result aligns with something that is cost−effective and within budget. It’s a prioritization of what improvements should be made in the near term and the long term.”
Students and faculty will be represented by three focus groups, each over the course of several weeks, Walters explained. The undergraduate focus groups on Sept. 19 and 20 were attended by nine students each.
“We want to learn about how students use our space,” Walters said. “A lot has changed about how faculty teach and the projects that students work on.”
Cohen and Walters gathered student opinions about the library through a tour in which students could discuss each area’s usage and features, according to senior Brianna Brandon, who attended the Sept. 20 focus group. Students then graded each area based loosely on the A−F academic scale.
Spaces given a lower grade may receive a higher level of attention and investment than more satisfactory spaces, Brandon said.
A running theme throughout the focus groups was the need for more areas devoted to group study, Walters said. While attendees emphasized the importance of having quiet space in the library, many voiced complaints that the library does not provide enough space for group discussion during its peak hours.
Students were especially concerned with the low availability and inconvenient placement of the existing group study rooms, she added.
“Someone suggested a system similar to LaundryView.com, where people could reserve a room or see which were available,” Brandon said.
Others proposed adding circular tables to the “purple hallway” at the rear of the library’s main level and moving the reference books and microfilm equipment to a less prominent location, according to Brandon.
Walters said both groups suggested that the Mark Computing Lab be transformed from a restricted classroom to an individual desktop study area.
Students also asked that space be freed up for more desktop computers, she said.
“We thought, given that almost everybody has a laptop now, maybe there wouldn’t be a need to have that hardware anymore,” Walters said. “Both groups not only said that they want the computers that are there, but that they would also like to have a more quiet room for computers.”
Despite her excitement about the upcoming changes, Walters explained that the project will likely take place in staggered phases over a long time period. Current seniors and juniors will not see the results by the end of their Tufts career, she said.
“We’re not certain of the scope yet,” she said. “It might be that we could say, ‘We have the money to do phases one and two, but we’re going to wait and think about phases three and four.’”
Cohen encourages students and faculty who do not attend a focus group to contact Aaron Cohen Associates with comments and suggestions.